Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spontaneity, Never say Never

Recent events have taught me that even when you think you have life all figured out you really don't. Something else will come along and sweep your feet from under you leaving you on the floor asking "What the freak just happened?" (in voice from Kid history episode 6) I am a planner by nature so when things don't go according to plan it is a bit cray-cray. Justin Beiber had it right when he said, "Never say Never". It is when you do say this phrase that things happen. When you aren't looking that things suddenly appear before your eyes. It could be just a matter of changing your perspective or perhaps it is something much more than that. Kinda like Murphy's law.. the unexpected should thus be expected to happen. Or Edgar Allen Poe's Imp of the Perverse, when someone tells you not to do something it becomes the only thing that you can think about. I don't know what it is about the month of November but it seems to be the month of new beginnings and endings. I have run the emotional marathon this month but I'll make it through. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to. It may not be the easiest or even how I envisioned it but I know the Big Man Upstairs is watching out for me. He'll make sure everything goes according to plan and I trust Him completely. Spontaneity after all is a part of life for good or bad. If we just put our trust in Him then we will be able to stop our racing minds and relax just a bit. Life can sure get crazy and I am grateful to have a line directly to Him at any time I feel I need it. All we have to do is ask.

Random Fact: Bananas contain a natural chemical which can make a person happy. This same chemical is found in Prozac. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Random trip to Israel?

This morning was crazy. Jump out of bed at 8:20 throw on some clothes, grab a granola bar, and head off to class. I got to the JSB only to find the printer wasn't working. I didn't know where the other printers were in the ESC or the BNSN so I traveled across campus to the Talmage building where I printed off my assignment. Needless to say I am buying a printer TONIGHT! No more trekking across campus 5 minutes before class. Gosh. So after this journey in the crisp autumn air, yes it is autumn here now, I flopped into my seat removed said paper from my backpack and put it on the table. Nearly everyone in the class had arrived when I turned to my friend Mariam and commented on how Brother Ogden was going to be late. Just then as if their ears had been burning one of his TAs came in and announced that he had randomly decided to go to Israel and should be back next week so class was canceled! HOOORAY! Since I didn't get to eat breakfast or do a number of things this morning I was over joyed. I happily traipsed down the hill to home and made myself a celebratory bowl of oatmeal. Yes, it tasted that much sweeter knowing that I did not have class until noon now. I still can't believe that my professor just decided to up and leave. There must be something REALLY exciting going on in Israel that called his attention. Nevertheless, I am grateful for his absence on a crazy morning like this. So I salute you Professor Ogden and your random spur of the moment trips to Israel. Thank you!

Random Fact: Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Psycho, which actually took 7 days to shoot.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hey man! What am I doing wrong?

Tonight for the first time I had Frozen Yogurt in Provo. I know, I live a sheltered life. :P Provo seriously has a million frozen yogurt places but tonight we went to a place called Spoon it Up. It is just west of campus and walking distance from my happy abode. My roommates Nicole and Andrea were so nice as to introduce me to a plethora of Frozen Yogurt flavors. Johny Boy accompanied us on our Fun adventure. As we were walking up the road we passed a group of 3 rather beefy guys talking.
"Hey Man! I don't know what are you doing..." -Beefy guy holding scriptures
Johny gave him an odd look and we all were kinda caught off guard.
Beefy man cont. "I don't know what you are doing so right. Cause I am stuck with two ugly guys while you are walking with three hot girls."
Cue nervous laughter. We were relieved cause we didn't know what he wanted.
"I mean I should get you to sign my scriptures or something." -Beefy man
This short little exchange totally made my week. We were laughing the whole way to Spoon It Up!

Random Fact: Barbie's measurements if she were life size: 39-23-33

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shopping for Commandments

Today at church was great. I just was able to get a lot out of all the testimonies and felt the spirit really strong in all of the lessons. Sunday school I went to my friend Adam's lesson and we talked about Companion Study. Kind of hard to relate to considering I have never been on a mission but the way that he just whipped up a lesson in about an hour amazed me. Return missionaries are the best! They have such a strong spiritual power about them that is indescribable. They make me feel a bit inferior though with their impressive knowledge of the scriptures. I have grown up with these stories all my life but if you asked me where they were located in those plethora of pages I'd probably give you a sheepish grin and admit I have no idea.

Relief Society has always been a bit daunting for me. The thought of going into a room full of women can give me heart palpitations. I am much more comfortable with my Bros. Today though I felt so welcomed. Everyone in this ward has taken me in under their wing with no reservation at all. Mind you half the ward is new but I feel lucky to have such great roommates and brothers/sisters in the Gospel. We talked about our feelings of the impending future. When she asked if anyone is scared I am pretty sure my hand was the first in the air. I am a planner by nature and I like to know what is coming up. If you looked on my computer you would find a calendar with every single hw assignment or test in all my classes calendared.

Something that really stuck with me was an analogy of Commandments and Shopping. I know these things really don't seem to go together but they do. Commandments should all be followed. You can't just pick one or two of them and decide. It is like when you go shopping. You can't go shopping for commandments and decide "Oh this one doesn't look cute on me, I don't think I will follow this one". The other thing that really struck me is someone said that Tithing is a commandment that you can be perfect in. It is so true. It is all in your power to make sure that you pay your tithing. Well that's all for today's update!

Random Fact:  The first bomb dropped on Germany in WWII killed the only elephant in the Berlin zoo.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I Found my TWIN!

Ok, So I have so much to say about this week it is insane so I had to do another blog post. This is just dedicated to the amazing fact that I have found another Kierstyn!!!! Yep, that's right... Another Kierstyn who spells her name just like me. She is a Freshman in my Greek and Roman Literature class. You should have seen our faces when we came to this realization. Professor Brockliss asked everyone to go around the room and say their name. So I said my name and she was sitting next to me and leaned over and said that was her name too. I asked her how she spelled it and she wrote it down. Cue MIND BLOWN! Holy cow! That's how I spell it too! After a casual exchange of High 5's we were both grinning like idiots. Now every time we have that class we say "hi Kierstyn", "Why hello there Kierstyn" and we both laugh. It seriously is the coolest thing ever! I love it. Then today in class we were sitting next to two Laurens. They had a little epiphany moment as well. Found my niche in that class? I'd say so. :)

Random Fact:  Coca-Cola was originally Green.

Tetris and Frogger

Yes! Made it through my first week of school here at BYU. Feeling pretty pumped for this semester but dang does it have me working. It is only the first week and if I am not sleeping or eating I am in the library or Math Lab slaving my life away.  Every morning it is like a game getting ready for classes. First our fridge is so packed full of yummy foods that we seriously have to play tetris to get the milk out. Then it is a quick hop, skip, and a jump across the road and up the large hill scattered with stairs to campus. So here is a run down of my schedule and the classes I am taking:


Course Title

 CL CV 110

 Hnrs Intro to Greek&Roman Lit


 Great Works & Arts Engagement

 IHUM 261


 MATH 112

 Honors Calculus 1

 PWS 340


 REL A 211

 Honors: The New Testament

Math is pretty brutal because it is every single day of the week. We have lecture every day except Thursday so I always feel like I am playing catch up in that class and it is only the first week! Definitely going to use this long weekend to try and get a bit ahead. I start off with Genetics which seems like a fascinating class but yeah I'm also behind in the reading for that class. We moved through 3 chapters in two classes which is about 60 pages in the textbook. -.- Yeah so more catch up this weekend. Hooray! Dr. Maughan is hilarious though and he makes the subject sound even more interesting than I thought it would be and I mean it is my major after all. Intro to Greek and Roman literature is already kicking my butt. The shear amount of reading in that class is almost cripling. I have plowed my way through 200 pages of the Iliad already and have another 100 pages to read over the weekend. It sounds like it will be fun though. Just lots and lots of reading.

The class that will probably be my favorite is my Great Works science class which only meets once a week. It is low maintenance as far as the reading goes and it is a lot of hands on experience. Last class we seriously just played with minerals and metals. Way fun! This Thursday we have a fieldtrip to the Planetarium on campus. I'm way excited cause I have been wanting to go to one of those shows forever.

New Testament has me really excited already. Brother Ogden has me fired up about Christ and I am looking forward to diving into the scriptures and coming to know my Savior on a deeper level. He joked around that his class is the best class on campus and I don't doubt that if I put in the work required I can come away with a stronger testimony and personal revelation about my Redeemer. Our first devotional on campus is on Tuesday so I am definitely going to that before my math class again. Now, my Humanities class is at a really weird time but I love it already. We are reading fascinating things about Jamestown and the early colonies. He is very knowledgeable and even was relating Pocahontas (the real one) to the Disney version. Man Disney had it all wrong but I can see why they changed it the way they did. I mean, it wouldn't be as popular for one. If you're curious as to what the story really is go Google it. :) One thing I learned in this class is that the Indian on campus that everyone calls the "Naked Indian" (He is wearing a loincloth) is actually Massosoit. Pretty sweet! So something that I see every day now has so much more meaning now.

Well, that's the run down of my classes. This week has been activities week for our ward. Every night there has been a ward activity to try and get us to branch out and make friends. It has been way fun. Monday night for FHE we got together and went to Jump On It! which is a trampoline house. We were all having a blast, eating pizza and such, when this poor kid Allen broke his leg! He landed on the dividers between the trampolines wrong and his leg snapped. Luckily it wasn't a compound fracture but still, ouch! The next night was cookies and lemonade where I made a quick guest appearance, grabbed some cookies and scurried away to my apartment to slave away at homework. Wednesday brought games and Ice Cream. YUMMY! It was pretty fun, gotta love the games that these people come up with, so random. Thursday was Cops and Robbers but I couldn't attend cause I went to a math review for my Pre-Test in Calculus. Yep that's right Calculus pretest... if I don't get about a 75 I can't take the class. Plus it counts as two homework grades so I better do good on it. Tonight is movie night at the Bishops. I am way excited. I don't even care what the movie is. I just want to roast marshmellows and enjoy the company of my fellow college students.

I cannot express just how good it is to be back at BYU. All summer I felt a little lost. I didn't really know what I was doing with my life. Everything was all caddiwhompus and it was just a mess frankly. Now that I have some structure again I am so focused. Life seems to be just falling into place and I couldn't be happier right now. I have awesome roommates. The guys in the ward are fantastic. Mark and I are the best of friends. Well, and my mom is visiting next weekend! Woot! Simply put, I could not be more happy with my life at the moment. Well, sure I could have less homework, but at the same time I love that feeling of accomplishment when you leave the library at a ridiculous hour and walk home in the crisp late summer air. It is exhilarating. Yes, I know I am a nerd, so sue me. My friend Adam whom I have affectionately nick-named "Scooby" due to his laugh and mannerisms has me hooked on going to the periodicals. No service down there so you can actually get stuff done. It is great!

Random Fact: People generally read 25% slower from a computer screen compared to paper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ewwww Gross, 'Nuf said.


I saw this commercial as I was watching YouTube videos. There I was innocently shuffling through VEVO when BAM! this hit me. Now I will give it credit because it held my attention longer then the required 30 seconds that I had to watch before I could skip to my video. Instead I watched all 2 minutes of it just for kicks. Guess I have no life :P Well anyway I couldn't stop laughing at it and yet it intrigues me... does it actually work? I knew that bad breathe comes from your tongue but how well does this product actually clean it. Still the analogies of the various ways to clean your tongue were witty. This commercial definitely deserves 5 stars in my book. It'll be the next Old Spice, well maybe not that popular but it shows promise given it has over 15 million hits on YouTube already. So watch it and enjoy... maybe you'll learn a thing or two too.

Random Fact: Leather skin does not have any smell. The leather smell that you sense is actually derived from the materials used in the tanning process.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Memories of Freshman Year

In honor of school coming up I figured I should do something to commemorate my first year at BYU and my roomies. So I made a montage from a rather fun memory of helium balloons. Good times. Good times. I am looking forward to making more crazy memories with my future roommates and new friends. Enjoy!

Random Fact: The salute of uniform bodies (eg. army, police) originated from knights who would lift their visors to show their face to royalty.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A whirlwind of emotions

As the new school year looms ever closer I find myself pondering about it more and more. Today it really got to me because after I get home to BKK tomorrow I only have 11 days before I head back to the USA again. That isn't much time. This whole year is a lot of uncertainty for me. Pretty much all my close friends left on their missions and I'm feeling a bit lonely and lost. Hopefully I'll be able to adjust without much trouble. That is all...

Random Fact: The surface area of the Earth is 197,000,000 square miles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nothing to Hide

This is the Air Flight Safety video for Air New Zealand. Watch it carefully and you may notice something. It's a brilliant twist on words. You definitely wouldn't see anything like this in the US. Then again you probably wouldn't see a lot of the TV shows that they broadcast here on regular television in the states. For instance, this evening we were watching this New Zealand channel and they dropped the F bomb like it was nothing. Guess they have a bit of different rules here.

Random Fact: Table salt is the only commodity that hasn’t risen dramatically in price in the last 150 years.

New Zealand? Or Chinatown?

Since being in Kiwiland I must say we have seen more Asians and tour groups than any Kiwis (people from New Zealand). It is really strange from me. We must be in “Chinatown” because we have an Asian supermarket down the street from us and a Chinese newspaper across the street. Now I’m not racist at all I just wasn’t expecting it coming to New Zealand. Apparently there is a very large Korean and Japanese population here. The other night when we were walking down the street and looking around near our hotel and some Asian girls were walking in front of us. It is mind boggling to me to hear a New Zealand accent coming from someone of Asian decent. Auckland is definitely a very diverse city. We saw people from all walks of life. It seems though that it is a young city. The majority of its inhabitants are roughly college age. It is a fairly clean city and has beautiful parks, very different from Bangkok. There is a lot of hills and two large harbors because Auckland is located on an isthmus with two mountain ranges within the city limits. This creates picturesque landscapes and a city skyline that is to die for. Every where I look in this city I feel like it is a movie set. It may not be Lord of the Rings with the rolling hills of the south island but Auckland is definitely a must see stop if you want to see a bit of the city life in New Zealand.

Random Fact: Between 25% to 33% of the population sneeze when they are exposed to light.

Meeting ALL the local wildlife

Australia is home to a wide variety of species from both land and sea. We were in awe as we walked through the Kangaroo exhibit. They were so tame! The kangaroos would come right up to you and if you put your hand out with some feed in it then they would eat it. My mom would scratch their necks and they would throw their heads back. I guess they really liked it. I was pretty surprised that they weren’t bigger but the ones in the enclosure were all females. Some of the kangaroos had joeys in their pouches. They were so cute! Some of them had barely any hair on them while another one that we saw was quite furry. Kangaroos are amazingly soft and we had a lot of fun scratching their ears and petting them

Now when you think of Pelicans you probably don’t realize just how big they are. The Australian pelican is the largest species and very common in the land down under. We had fun watching them and the large male pelican named Perry was particularly friendly. The zookeeper came and we were able to feed them. Their beaks are so huge! A few turtles and a fresh water eel or two were trying to eat the fish that we were feeding the pelicans. Random fact about these pelicans… when they lay eggs they may lay 3 or 4 but only one baby survives because they will eat the others or push them out of the nest. So sad!
My friend the wombat... soooo cute!
Everyone knows that Australia is land of the marsupials. If you don’t know what a marsupial is it is a mammal with a pouch where their babies stay for several months and develop instead of inside their bodies. We learned that there are two species of koala and three different species of wombat. I fell in love with wombats. These furry marsupials only have a gestation period of 22 days! Man I’d kill to have that. But then their babies stay in the pouch for up to 7 months so it kinda evens out I suppose. While we were at the zoo we got to pose with a koala and actually hold it. They are so soft and cute but their claws are pretty sharp and it scratched me a little  but it was so worth it. I mean when would I ever get to do that again? Never…
Sultan the 16 foot long saltwater Crocodile

Not all of these critters are very friendly though. Australia is famous for its poisonous snakes and spiders. We got to see a snake show with the coastal taipan (one of the world’s top 10 most poisonous snakes) along with a few other reptile friends. There was even a crocodile show but because it is “winter” in Cairns the crocs weren’t very active. The biggest crocodile there was Sultan and he was about 5 meters long or 16 feet in length. Crocodiles have a massive bite and it is a supercharged one at that. They are able to bite down with a force of 3500 pounds per square inch on average. To put that in perspective, humans have an average of about 120 psi and lions have around 900 psi. Talk about a powerful set of chompers.

The favorite attraction at Cairns Zoo is definitely the Bird Show. We all had our different reasons for liking it. I loved the birds and how smart they are. Jared liked the fails and the jokes. Then there is Mina. Mina was there for the Trainer, Chad. She was all smitten with his Aussie accent and Beiber hair. Maybe it was the way he charmed the birds that had her wishing she could grow feathers and fly into his arms. We were even joking around that instead of holding a koala she would ask if she could hold him. For the longest time we didn’t even know his name but then it was all we could talk about. I suppose that you could say Aussies are quite SPICAAAY indeed. ;-) Not going to lie there. Yes, I can say with assurance that my whole family loved our experience at the zoo and in the land down under.

Random Fact: Hot water is heavier than cold water.

The Rack Workout Station

This commercial made me laugh. I saw it on TV in New Zealand. I couldn’t help but laugh because it looks like a walker. Sometimes I really have to stop and wonder how well these magical workout programs work. Do you think this would work for you? Definitely not my type of workout. I think I'll stick to my two feet and a pair of running shoes.

Random Fact: The longest Monopoly game ever played was 1,680 hours long, that's 70 straight days!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Can't Stop LAUGHING!

This video has had me laughing so much. I have replayed it so many times. It really needs to go viral! It is simply cute, fail, and a win at the same time. Who knew a Manatee was so squishy. Anyway, enjoy my silly little video.

Random Fact: An elephant trunk has no bone but 40,000 muscles.

Team Rugby Safety Video

On our flight from Cairns Australia to Auckland New Zealand we flew on New Zealand air. Most safety videos that they show you on the plane are soooo boring and lame. But wait… what’s this? A rugby team? An old granny with a picture of a SPICAAAAY man in a Speedo? Is this really a safety video? I must say this was the first airplane safety video that has really captured my entire attention in a very long time. It was really great so I even found it on YouTube so you all can enjoy it as well.

Random Fact: Kiwis are the only known bird to have nostrils located at the tip of their beak.

Don’t Rock the Boat

Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to go to Australia. I got my diving certification with my dad when I was just 12 years old. Put both of those together and there you have my dream, to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is not only the largest natural reef but also boasts the most biodiversity of nearly anywhere in the world. We got on the boat quite early at 7:30 am and set sail shortly after that. They gave us a safety briefing and passed around sea sickness tablets. Knowing myself, and the fact that I was not born with an iron stomach, I graciously accepted some. Lindsey was only able to do snorkeling because you had to be 12 to do an intro dive. Mina and Jared were able to do the intro dive program though and they loved it! They did 3 different dives but were not allowed to be down as deep or as long as my mom, dad and I.
Now for the fun stuff… and the not so fun. The wind was pretty bad and it was causing some massive waves. We had a really large boat but it was still rocking pretty good. I swear we all should have started singing “Don’t rock the boat baby”. It was really bad. Mina was the first to lose it. Before long over half the boat was praising the great porcelain gods. Lindsey and I were the only two from our family who survived the trip without sharing our food with the fish. Once we got out to the reef though it was really calm but those 40 minutes to the reef were a built in roller coaster ride. One awesome thing that made those 40 minutes worth it was that we saw a humpback whale! He was so cute! He kept slapping the water with his flippers so it looked like he was waving at us. He also would jump and fluke in front of the boat. A couple of dolphins even joined in the fun. We watched him for a while before we got to the reef. All the humpback whales are in Australia giving birth to their calves and enjoying the warmer waters. 
A Giant Moray Eel we saw
Time to dive below the water. We slid into our freezing cold wetsuits, put on our gear, and descended below the ocean waves. My mom had a bit of trouble getting down at first but then it all worked out. I could not believe how many fish there were! There was a huge variety of fish, coral, and sea slugs. Tucked away in a crevice I was lucky enough to see an octopus. The parrotfish were swimming around picking at the coral and I got a picture taken with some clownfish. My dad took tons of photos so I’ll be sure to put those up on Facebook later. It was so tranquil down there that I didn’t want to return to the surface. After nearly freezing to death one of the crew members gave me an extra wetsuit to put on. We had a mandatory 30 minute wait time before we could go back down again. That passed quickly and we suited up and dove down but went a different way along Milne’s reef. It is amazing how just a few feet away you can see completely different fish. 
White Tipped Reef Shark that was sleeping in the sand.
After this dive it was back into the boat to grab some grub and we went to the next reef for our last dive. It was great to get some warm food and hot cocoa in our systems. This boat also had WARM showers. I kid you not they were almost too hot at times. It felt amazing and I was so glad they had them. The crew was very helpful and friendly which made it fun to talk to them about their various adventures on the Great Barrier Reef. When we descended the waves for our last dive I was shocked at first… ummm where was the reef? There was nothing but sand below us but we soon spotted some shadows off in front of us. That is where we went. Giant coral landscapes and channels were there. It was breathtaking. We swam through some and saw the largest turtle I have ever seen in my life. It must have been about 5 feet long and about 4 feet across on its shell alone. Talk about an amazing specimen. (yes the nerd in me coming out again) We also so a couple of white tipped reef sharks sleeping on the sandy bottom and a small ray. The variety was stunning. It was so different from the other place we went it blew my mind away. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. It is a MUST SEE if you go to Australia. 
This turtle was huge! Seriously the biggest one I have ever seen.
The trip back was even bumpier than the way out there but for some reason or another we didn’t get sick at all, which was a huge relief. It was actually really fun! Mina went out on the front of the boat and got a bit of the ocean spray in her face. The waves were really big and the boat sometimes caught them just right so that it was almost like we were flying. It was bittersweet when we saw the mountains looming in the distance. It wasn’t far until shore now and that meant bye bye boat. It was definitely a chance of a lifetime and I loved every second of it. Guess I can check that one off my bucket list.
Random Fact: A ball of glass will bounce higher than a ball made of rubber.

And we just wanted a muffin

When we finished at the Aboriginal village we went to Nondo’s for lunch. It is a delicious chicken place and would highly recommend it to anyone if you can find one.  We walked around town for a while and stopped at a local grocery store called Woolworths. Mina wanted a muffin so we walked over but as we got in the store the lady who worked there told us about a drawing and entered us all into it for a $25 gift certificate. They picked the winner a few minutes later and my mom won! We were so happy because Australia is quite expensive so we bought muffins and various sodas along with some gum. It was all quite tasty. It was a great day and now we had some yummy food for our breakfast before the trip on the reef the next day. They were really good muffins too. Just shows you that surprises can happen on vacation too.

Random Fact: Americans did not commonly use forks until after the Civil War.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ladies Didgeridon’t but Guys Didgeridoo

After arriving in Australia we caught a cab to our hotel. It was Mina’s birthday so we went to eat at this restaurant called Outback Jacks. It is very similar to Outback in the states and the food was pretty good but the service sucked. They don’t have a set waiter they just kind of rotate so they don’t  keep track of your drinks very well. We only got one glass of water and they were really slow bringing the food. Mina and I split the ribs and they were delicious. Most everyone else got steak. Living in Thailand we are all kinda deprived of our meat. Luckily for us Australians love their meat and it is in abundance here. We walked around the Cairns city area before heading “home” at the Hilton. We were wiped out!

The next day we went to a traditional aborigine village called Tjapukai. The aboriginal people have lived in Australia for thousands of years. This specific tribe had their own language, which is different from all the others. They had their own territory and were known as the Rain forest people. Based on the location of the Aborigines they adapted to their environment. The people from the desert were much taller with blonder hair while the rain forest people are much shorter with dark skin and wiry hair. Rainbow was the name of a guy who grew up in this particular tribe of aborigines. He told a few stories of his family including one about his grandfather who lived to be around 100 years old. But now they only have a lifespan of about 30 to 40 years before they pass on. He said this is due to the new processed food that they eat. Speaking of the food they eat they actually eat more toxic and poisonous foods than any other group of aborigines. They have this “black bean” that they have to soak for 5 days before all the toxins are all removed.

The men all go out to hunt and would use different types of boomerangs, spears, and shields. Kangaroos were a common food source along with other marsupials and deer if they could be found. A large majority of their diet though was just fruits and grasses. They have a plant that looks kinda like a large pineapple, but the name eludes me, that was like a giant caffeine shot. It is the equivalent of 50 cups of coffee and men would eat it before hunting. There was also something called the cheese fruit, which smells like cheese and supposedly can cure Cancer. Pretty neat! We were able to throw a boomerang and Jared nearly caught his but tripped as he ran for it so the guy let him keep it anyway. None of us came that close and Dad barely got his off the ground. We all had a good laugh watching everyone show their warrior skills. Next we got to throw a spear and Jared and I were by far the best of the family. We didn’t hit any of the “kangaroo targets” but at least our spear went straight. It was a lot of fun.

Another awesome thing was the Didgeridoo… only men could play them and they were used in ceremonies. Women were not allowed to play them or even look at them for fear that they would fall pregnant. *insert awkward humor* We couldn’t help but laugh at that. Rainbow one of the aborigine men played for us and told us how to play it. We tried later in the store where they have tons of them but were not very successful. Didgeridoos can be made out of several different woods but they need to be hollow. Termites do most of the work and hollow out the middle then they are cleaned up, stripped of their bark, and painted. Some of the ones in the shop were really ornate and the price tag that came with them showed. The most expensive one was  $5000! That is in AUS dollars, which is about $1.18 US dollars. It was all hand carved and beautiful along with being a huge hollowed tree. The longer and wider the didgeridoo the lower the pitch and it was interesting to see the difference between them. Rainbow said it took him a year to learn how to properly play the didgeridoo. It took him 3 months just to get the breathing down which is circular meaning that you breathe in as you vibrate your lips and breathe out. I certainly couldn’t do that. Overall, it was a fascinating to see the equivalent to Native Americans here in Australia.

Random Fact: Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

Jabba the Gut

First of all I must pay my respect where it is due and thank my brother Jared Edwards for inspiring the title of this post. Like any vacation you go into it excited to relax and eat yummy food. And just like any vacation you find yourself like a caterpillar engorged and ready to hull up in a cocoon for a few days just to get rid of the “fat sweats”. Yes, it is the infamous food coma. Somewhere between Gelato ice cream and delicious Satey it hit me. Now for those who have seen me eat before they know I can put away a lot of food for my size but in the summer months when I am not hustling from class to class my appetite tends to trail off a bit. But I can’t pass up that one more bite of delicious oven fired pizza or fried Balinese banana pancake. It would be a shame to let it go to waste right?

So now as I am sitting in the airport in Bangkok waiting for my next flight to Brisbane before heading on to Cairns Australia I’m regretting that extra bite of Oreo blizzard. One cannot live off of fast food alone! Well, or plane food… but that is hardly food. Still, I must say the last flight from Bali to Bangkok had decent food. I normally am not coherent when they come along asking whether you want chicken or some other concoction but this time I was determined to stay awake. The winner? Chicken curry and rice with some sort of vegetable that looked like Swiss chard. It was actually quite tasty. Even the cake dessert was good. It was moist and not dried out like the rolls. Jared ate most everyone’s salads cause they had tuna. That is the one downfall of planes, if there is anything remotely potent like tuna is it stinks up the plane for the rest of the flight.

About that flight…. It pretty much was a flying torture chamber. Yeah I guess you could say I’ve become kind of a frequent traveling snob. I know what I like and don’t like on flights and this one had well, good food I suppose, but that is it! There were no air nozzles that you could turn to relieve you from the stagnant disease ridden air. There were no televisions on the back of the seats to relieve your boredom. It did have a large projector in the middle but it was so poor quality that the people directly in front of it probably couldn’t have seen it if they tried. The seats were not the best but manageable and the blanket they gave you if you could call it that was rather ratty looking. When we first got on the plain I could have sworn they were trying to boil us. I’m not going to lie as they approached with the drinks the ice bucket looked rather refreshing. Needless to say it was a long 4 hour flight. I survived though and I hope and pray the next flight to Australia has comfy seats and some nice movies to watch. Above all I will be excited to slouch into the bed at the hotel when we arrive. Last but not least I’d like to give a birthday shout out for my sister Mina. Happy 17th birthday! For you we give you an Aisle or Window seat and plane food galore :P Sounds like a great birthday right? Well we will land in Australia before dinner so we’ll treat her right then. Our flight takes off at 11:59 so we’ll sing her happy birthday in the air. That’s all for now… next time I post I’ll be in a land down under.

Random Fact: Farmers in England are required by law to provide their pigs with toys.

Gone Bananas

The town of Ubud in Bali is home to a place where you can go and interact with the local Macaques. These monkeys live in a special area specifically dedicated to them. To tourists and locals it is known as the Monkey Forest. You have to pay to get in and you can buy bananas by the bunch to give to the monkeys. Surprisingly you really don’t even have to go inside in order to see a few monkeys. They wander around the streets near the sanctuary and they even came to breakfast one morning before the staff scared them away. These monkeys were a barrel of fun to say the least. From their sporty Mohawk hairdos to their funny little beards they had us all laughing. At the front gate we bought 3 bunches of bananas for about 50k RP or 6 US dollars. Before my mom could even hide them away in her bag a rather dominant and rambunctious male macaque came and snatched a whole bunch of bananas away from her. He scurried off and sat on top of the statue at the entrance of the forest proudly enjoying his feast. We were all laughing and saying how “Bananas equal death”.

The bad part about the first monkey grabbing the bananas is now all the other monkeys at the entrance knew that we had them too. They are smart little critters. A few of them followed us but a rather brave one jumped up onto my mom and climbed up her until it could reach at her bag. Of course the natural reaction for my mom was to scream and start spinning around and shove the monkey off. One of the Balinese workers started yelling… “Madam give the monkey the banana madam. Don’t shove the monkey. Just walk away and it will jump off.” Well this was partially true. It did get a banana and it did jump off when she started walking away. The guy later explained that they can get aggressive and bite if they don’t get what they want. It had rained earlier that morning so the ground was all muddy and well now so was my mom.

The next person to be accosted by these particularly cheeky primates was Lindsey. She is the smallest of all of us and was trying to hide a banana in her fist but to no avail. They can smell it. It climbed up her and tried to get it as she squealed and threw the banana. We had a bit of fun with the monkeys passing off the bananas from person to person and watching them try to guess who had it. We even saw some other tourists playing Monkey in the Middle, literally, with a few furry friends. We were all laughing, as the monkey would run back and forth before they eventually got the banana. They are really fast!

It was really pretty in the monkey forest and they had trails and temples hidden within its depths. There was a stream that ran through it and statues too. We learned from a local man that the local tribe uses the cemetery there and their dead are buried there for 5 years before they are dug up and cremated. Their ashes are then carried to the sea. I thought it was rather odd to just bury your dead for 5 years and then disturb them to cremate the remains. Seems kind of disrespectful for the dead to not allow them to rest in peace. Apparently the cremation ceremony is a big deal for them as well. To each his own I suppose. 

Perhaps the best part was just goofing off with the monkeys. There is a reason why they say monkey see monkey do. We saw some absolutely tiny baby monkeys and it is funny because they are so dark compared to their lighter parents. They almost look black! My dad as we were walking around saw one monkey and said “wow that one has a tumor.” After looking at it closer we discovered that it was really just a baby monkey clinging to its mother’s stomach and he had seen its feet. We all laughed at that. Those silly monkeys could get quite cheeky with one another and it was fun watching them groom each other and check for bugs. They really do a thorough job. It makes me laugh looking at their behavior and some of our own human behaviors and I think to myself we really aren’t so different after all and yet so far from being the same. The Monkey forest was tons of fun and a highlight of our Bali trip.

Random Fact: Of all the candy that is produced in a year 65% of it is consumed by American adults 18 years and older.

Wifi, it can make it or break it….

Traveling around the world you will realize how important your computer, iPhone, or other wifi related device is to you. After we left the Aston on Kuta beach in Bali we went north to Ubud where we stayed at a nice hotel but it did not have the luxury of wifi without paying a hefty price for it. Coming from a family full of techie gurus and a dad who practically wrote the book on all things computer geek we need our gadgets. Even Lindsey was wilting a bit without the luxury of her iPod touch games.

The morning that we left Kuta it rained so we didn’t get to go surfing but we did get to check into our hotel and then travel the Bali countryside to the volcanoes. We ate at this buffet restaurant that looked out on the lava flows of one of Bali’s largest volcanoes. It was rather impressive and we took several family photos with the mountains in the background. The food was really good too and worth the money. We were practically starving because it was nearly 2pm and we hadn’t eaten since 9am. It was beautiful to eat and look out over the lava flows. There was one island of higher ground where everything was green. It was pretty cool. 

Then we went to the largest Hindu temple in Bali, which they call the “mother temple”. It turned out to be comprised of 55 temples in total. Some of those temples are private ones for families. All of them are built out of the volcanic rock. Originally the main temple was built in the 8th century but has had to be rebuilt several times since then due to weather, erosion, and volcanic eruptions. I learned that there are 15000 temples throughout Bali. Also that there are certain celebrations that rotate through the temples and one is held every 100 years, every 10 years, and annually. For the celebration that is every century it was in the 1970s and over 70% of all Bali’s Hindu population came to it. We got to see pictures from it and the procession. It was a really interesting experience.

We finished off the day at our hotel and walked around near it in search of a restaurant with wifi. Yes, wifi. If the restaurant didn’t have wifi then we didn’t eat there. It was that simple. Most of the restaurants boast that they have free wifi but it sucks beyond all belief. There are very few times when I have been grateful for Thai internet and this was one of them. When the wifi range is so bad that it doesn’t even reach where you are sitting from the front then you might be in Bali. It was great though walking around the city and seeing all of the fun shops. Ubud is definitely more mountainous and we actually had some hills to climb. This provided some much needed exercise for all of us. Bali really has been a great experience. 

Random Fact: In Tibet it is considered good manners to stick out your tongue at someone.

Wacky or Tacky Art

All throughout Bali you can find beautiful art in all mediums. Yet, also in Bali you can find wonderful masterpieces of the male anatomy. From bottle openers to ash trays and key chains too they had it all. There was natural wood grain or paintings of beaches. I even saw one that was Jamaican colors with weed leaves on it. Yes, I may not understand the significance of this anatomy lesson but that may be partly due to me being a girl. It didn’t matter what the shop was you were bound to run across some wooden phallic object in its midst of Balinese treasures.

They also seem to really appreciate the female physique because there were paintings everywhere of various women partially or completely in the nude. If you were really lucky you may even find a man and woman “wrestling” statue made of wood or stone. Yes, Bali is quite the interesting place. It really makes me wonder how much of this stuff they actually sell. There were bumper stickers galore sporting every foul word under the sun and some that featured so many they no longer were coherent sentences in English. It was almost laughable how crude some the of the t-shirts and paraphernalia was.

The statues all over Bali are no exception. Then again they are statues and hardly accurate descriptions of the Balinese women. Trust me on that one… I didn’t see a single “busty” woman there. Kinda makes me wonder if that’s why they create the statues and the art because of that very reason. While in the Monkey Forest we happened upon a monkey statue with a rather large bosom. I’m sorry I saw those monkeys and well, they were so flat they’d make the stone walls jealous. Another statue featured a monkey grasping what looked like an extra limb but I assure you it was not. This may be a rather sensitive subject but after being in Bali for a week I couldn’t help but not share it. Sigmund Freud would have had a hay day in Bali. It really was an eye opening experience for all.

Random Fact: On average, Americans spend about 6 months of their lives waiting at red traffic lights.